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    Inclusivity in Physical Education at Seattle Public Schools
    Posted on 01/18/2019
    Students in a gym gather together while uses a rowing machine

    Inclusivity in Physical Education at Seattle Public Schools

    Adapted physical education is fostered in Seattle Public Schools through the offering of inclusive programs where both general education and special education students team up to participate in physical education activities. The program is offered in all middle schools throughout the district.

    One example of an inclusive physical education program is the George Pocock Rowing Foundation Erg Ed (indoor rowing) program at McClure Middle School and is offered through the generous support of the foundation. The Erg Ed program is currently stationed at McClure. As the year progresses, the Erg rowing machines will be transported to other schools throughout the district and will be made available to all north and south end middle schools.

    A middle school PE class gathers in the gymThrough the offering of indoor rowing education, both the district and the George Pocock Rowing Foundation are aligned in their mission to provide inclusive learning environments for ALL students. George Pocock Rowing Foundation has 12 rowing community partners in Seattle and understands that travel to and from these centers is not readily accessible.

    “Erg Ed is an awesome program that brings rowing indoors to kids,” said Morgan Utt, Erg Ed Northwest program manager. Furthermore, the program exposes students to the fundamentals of indoor rowing and gives all students an opportunity to take part in a fun, team-building activity by teaching them the basics of rowing in an indoor setting.

    Beyond the acquisition of skills, both general education and special education students benefit from the peer-to-peer interactions. According to Toni Bader, adapted physical education specialist at Seattle Public Schools, “The Erg Ed program provides opportunities for peer socialization, inclusion, skill development, and it is successful in that it provides access for all students. It teaches skills to students and focuses on what students can do. For students with disabilities, adaptations are made when needed, so they can fully participate.”

    The George Pocock Rowing Foundation purchased the adaptive equipment to provide accessibility and availability to students with disabilities, and in addition, they have been supporting teachers with professional development.

    Erg Ed in Action at McClure Middle School

    When walking into a physical education classroom during the Erg Ed unit, expect to see lines of Ergs set up ready for teams of students to get a workout in while cheering each other on. On one visit, students were grouped into teams and were stationed at each Erg, taking turns as they recorded their rowing times and competed against other teams.

    Students gather together in a gym while one works on a row machineThe friendly, competitive energy of the students filled the air as encouraging cheers erupted from each area of the expansive gym. “Let’s go! You can do it, Lilly!” Though Lilly likes competing with the other teams, what she enjoys most is the time she has with her peers. “I love being around my friends,” she said.

    Chanel Moon is a special education teacher at the school, and many of her students are part of the Erg Ed class. Moon excitedly shared how beneficial it is for her to witness general education and special education students participating in a physical education class together. “The students are supported to be successful, and they are in a safe space where they can participate. We need opportunities to have the tools to learn one another strengths.”

    Adapted physical education services is part of the physical education program at Seattle Public Schools that continues to strive to create environments where all students can participate, work as a team, and learn about the physical and socio-emotional benefits of fitness. It is also part of the district’s mission in fostering welcoming environments for all the students in our community.

    A teacher and student talk together in the gymRead more from a previously published story on how one high school in the district brings together special education and general education students in a physical education class. Unified physical education at Chief Sealth International High School.

    The George Pocock Rowing Foundation is a non-profit based in Seattle. Through building and supporting rowing programs and facilities, the Pocock Foundation promotes access to rowing, excellence in rowing, and uses rowing to foster physical activity, health, leadership, and community engagement. Erg Ed is currently operating in Seattle and Renton and 14 other cities nationally. More than 20,000 students will complete the Erg Ed program across 11 school districts in the 2018-2019 academic year.

    Learn more George Pocock Rowing Foundation at